The Business Year

Paula Rey

COLOMBIA - Industry

Paula Rey & Olivier Fages

General Manager, Diageo

Bio

The spirits business encourages responsible drinking, in the name of continued innovation in the sector.

What is the special bond between Diageo and Colombia?

PAULA REY Diageo has been in Colombia since 1995. There are four main themes in which we impact the industry and the country itself. First, we are driven to be the world’s best brand builder, leading the way in premium drinks, bringing people together every day to celebrate life. We have evolved our business every day, and now consumers can find a complete portfolio for all occasions. Second, at the core of our approach is a commitment to positive drinking through promoting moderation and addressing the harmful use of alcohol: doing so is good for consumers and good for business: consumers should drink better and not more. Third is about working hard at the industry level to level the playing field so that we can all have more equal conditions to play. Our fourth aim is to positively impact our society and the environment.

Pernod Ricard owns over 240 brands and has more than 1,800 collaborators worldwide. What characteristics contribute to the company’s international success and recognition?

OLIVIER FAGES The characteristics of Pernod Ricard may be summed up in the term convivialité, and this is truly the reality of the group. It comes from Paul Ricard, a founder of Pernod Ricard, whose brand motto was “Make a friend every day.” It is about making friends and discovering people and creating connections. We are in the spirit business. This is the strength of Pernod Ricard. Of course, with liquors, we have large competitors with big brands, too. But what makes Pernod Ricard different is our focus on lifestyle. It is about the way we work. It is about being professional, but without taking things too seriously. We are serious when we work but not arrogant. 

What is Diageo’s economic and social impact in the country?

PR We have consistently invested in this country since, almost three decades ago. We have also invested in our brands and made them stronger and more culturally relevant. That means -in economic terms- that consumers demand has increased, and they look for them in those small entrepreneurships. We create demand by focusing on consumers and what they want, satisfying their needs better than anyone else, and investing consistently in driving that brand strength such that demand rises, our allies sell and profit much more. Again, we always keep in mind the responsible drinking part. It is not about selling more but rather about supporting our partners to sell better and profit more.

How do you employ innovation to stay at the forefront of the industry?

OF Innovation is key for business. Because we are consumer-centric, over the past two years we have greatly increased our use of the e-commerce channel. It is one of the three axes of innovation. It is about interrelation, the way you sell, experience, and new products, and over the past few years, we have launched many products. We launched the new Chivas Extra, a 13-year-old product, which is a different customer proposition. Usually, whiskeys are 12 or 18-years-old. We came in with a 13-year-old with a different finish to provide new experiences to the consumer.

What is the company’s commitment to Colombia going forward?

PR We believe in the huge possibilities that Colombia has to offer for this industry, and we are committed to continue investing in it. We partnered with Licorera de Caldas to locally produce Smirnoff X1 Lulo. We are proud to show our leadership in the vodka category with this groundbreaking innovation to continue to celebrate diversity and the idea that we all fit in this world. We made an important investment to elevate quality and facilities capabilities, and it is a win-win partnership with Colombian industry. We plan to stay here for a long time and continue with such initiatives. We will continue to invest in our brands, the country, society, and the environment.

OF The Colombian and Andean market have grown quickly over the past few years and there is real potential for a further acceleration of our business in Colombia and the region. It looks like the market is opening to the world. The liquor business, for many years, has been dominated by local products, like Aguardiente and Ron. Imported products, such as whiskey, are under a lot of fiscal pressure. The fact that Colombia integrated with the OECD has helped the economy open to the world. Society is also developing international preferences and a growing appetite for foreign liquor. The fastest growing liquor today in Colombia is tequila.

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